June 2006
David Campbell


We spent about 2 hours at the Bubali Bird Sanctuary on Aruba last Wednesday, 6/23/2006, at about 2-4PM, between the low and high-rise hotel districts, across from the "Windmill" shopping area. I photographed some large white birds, possibly Egrets or Ibis's, a red-billed duck-like bird with a black body that swam with the ducks on the lake area, a family of ducks (very cute with about 10 chicks trailing the hen across the lake's water hyacinth plants), and what I thought to be a Kingfisher.


Then, just before we were leaving, I noticed a pair of small parrots/parakeets preening and grooming themselves above where our car was parked, in a tall tree (don't know what type of tree it was). They were hard to photograph because they were up in the high branches of the tree. But I got my Sigma 75-300mm telephoto lens out and put it on my Pentax *ist DS DSLR camera and started shooting.


Anyway, I thought you may be interested in the story of this pair, the

*only* pair we saw at the Sanctuary, and then, only by chance. They didn't make any noises, and it was by pure luck that I noticed them in the tree, right when we were getting ready to leave.


The whole experiences of photographing the Brown-throated Parakeets was a big surprise, from beginning to end. First off, we almost didn't see them...it was just by chance that I glanced up into the large tree shading our car at the Sanctuary and saw them.



Then there was the actual photos themselves. I quickly switched lenses to the Sigma 75-300mm telephoto, and didn't even change my camera settings as I thought they might fly off any time. So the DSLR was in full automatic mode, and I was shooting through a lot of foliage to boot...I honestly didn't know

*what* the results would be. But thank the Gods for RAW digital pictures...it was a big surprise to blow up the images in Photoshop and see the two parakeets up close, and personal!


It appears that the pair "knew" I was photographing them, as they were looking right down at me in every shot I took. I actually have about 25 pictures of them, but the three I sent you are the best ones. As an aside to the experience at the Sanctuary, we met a couple from the USA at the airport while standing in line for Customs the morning of our departure who said they went to the Sanctuary and "didn't see anything." I asked the gentleman how long did they stay there, and he replied, "Oh, about 15 minutes.(!)" I'm not an expert birder by any means, but at least I had the sense to go there, be still, and wait for the various birds to appear.


And did they appear! Out of the reeds surrounding the lake came duck after duck, and a bevy of those black duck-like birds with the red bills. Then there were the larger birds, Herons, Ibis, and the Kingfisher. The place was full of life. If we hadn't missed our lunch we would have stayed there longer, but as it was we had a rewarding 2 hours.


We even had several large lizards appear out of nowhere, who became my subjects, just because we were quiet, and still, and patient. I guess that's the secret to successful birding: if you can't take the time to let things happen, there's no reason to even be there.

Common Moorhen, Bubali, Aruba, June 2006.

Photo by David Campbell.